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Did Garrett Adelstein get cheated during high stakes poker livestream by Robbi Jade Lew?

One of the wildest poker live streams ever ends with a cash game legend accusing his opponent of cheating during a live broadcast. And that’s only part of the drama.

Update October 6: Adelstein has made a donation to the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Los Angeles for the amount of money he was refunded, $135,000.

Update October 4: Hustler Casino Live has launched a full investigation.

Also Robbi replied with a heads-up challenge.

2022 has been a big year for cheating in thinking sports, and one rather wild hand broadcast on Thursday night puts poker right back under the controversy microscope during a livestream from the Hustler Casino in Los Angeles.

And much like the last livestream scandal in poker, it involves a player accusing another of knowing what cards are being held by their opponent. Likely due to the RFID tags placed in each card so that fans at home know what is being held.

Garrett Adelstein is widely considered one of the best cash game players in the world, with a very solid reputation unlike some of his fellow well-known pros. So when he made a standard raise from the big blind in the $100-$200-$400 game with 7♣ 8♣ to $3000 against a player he’s faced before in Robbi Jade Lew in the $800 straddle, he likely didn’t think everything would change when she defended with the marginal J♣ 4♥. It left $131,000 in her stack, which Adelstein easily covered.

You can watch what happens here:

So to recap: Adelstein 7♣ 8♣, Lew J♣ 4♥. $6700 in the pot.

Flop: 10♣ 9♣ 9♥

Adelstein bets $2500, Lew calls

Turn: 3♥

Adelstein bets $10,000, Lew raises to $20,000, Adelstein shoves all-in for ~$109,000 more ...

Analysis: This is where the hand should end. There is $51,700 in the pot, and it will cost Lew $109,000 to call. She has no hand, no draw, and Garrett’s range of hands has her in super-max jail. The value hands Garrett could be shoving with include more than 100 of the 1326 possible combinations of hole cards: AA, KK, QQ, JJ (there’s 24 combos of those hands alone), A-10, K-10, Q-10, J-10’s... most/all of the 10♥ X♥’s, three combos of 33 for a turned set, and literally any napkin, Uno Draw Four, or gym membership ID to go with one of the two remaining 9’s.

But Garrett will also have some bluffs here! He’s one of the most creative and balanced players in the world, and you can’t get paid when you have the best hand if you never get caught bluffing. He would also make this shove reasonably often with A♣ K♣, A♣ Q♣, K♣ Q♣, Q♣ 8♣, A♥ K♥, A♥ Q♥, A♥ J♥, Q♥ J♥, J♥ 8♥... but the problem is even if he’s bluffing with those hands, Lew can’t call because she can’t beat the bluff!

Garrett would also do this with tons of hands containing the J♣ too, but since Lew has that card it removes even more possible bluffs he could have. So she simply can’t call. The only even marginally-reasonable shoves he can have that she beats are 7♣ 8♣, 6♣ 8♣, 6♣ 7♣, 7♥ 8♥, 6♥ 8♥, and 6♥ 7♥. I looked real hard for another one, but this is it.

So there are roughly over 150 ways Lew could be behind, about six ways to be ahead, and it’s more than two times the size of the pot to call. Of course you know what happens here because we’re writing about it.

... Lew calls $109,000.

When players agree to “run it twice” that means instead of one river card, the dealer will put out two. Either one player will either win 100% of the pot by having the best hand after both rivers, or they’ll split the pot if each player has the best hand once. Despite Garrett being a 53%-47% favorite Robbi fades both rivers, and wins all of the nearly $270,000 pot.

But the real drama started afterwards, as Adelstein soon walked away from the table. A discussion started on the casino floor involving Adelstein, Lew, the producers of the show, and a fellow player in the game that’s a friend of Lew’s in “Rip.”

When it was all said and done, Lew gave Adelstein his half of the pot back, which is something no one has ever seen in a high stakes poker game before. Adelstein took the chips, but still racked up and left the casino anyway.

“G-Man” then took to Twitter to present his side of what happened when he got home, and he says he considered the refund as basically an admission of guilt.

And while Adelstein is no fly-off-the-handle conspiracy theorist, he still doesn’t have any real evidence about what might have happened beyond the circumstantial. His logic makes sense, but it also wouldn’t hold up in court. And the replies to his Twitter account might indicate he’s not winning much in the court of public opinion yet either.

Lew did a brief interview trying to explain her side during the livestreamed game, then went back to playing without Adelstein at the table.

There’s certainly some problems with Lew’s explanation, as it’s clear she was looking at her cards pretty intently before making the call. Even though she did have J♠ 3♠ on the previous hand, it seems highly implausible she thought she had a pair when she called for $109,000 more.

Every live poker player that’s grinded for any reasonable length of time at some point has misread their hand. Phil Ivey was playing on the stream too last night and he’s done it, more than once! But they tend not to do so in massive pots after repeatedly double-checking their cards.

Lew’s line in this hand, as well as several others during the session, was truly suspect at best. And her consistently changing explanation as to why she made the call, which evolved from “I had a draw” (she didn’t) to “I had a blocker in the J ♣” (well, yeah but you still can’t call) to “I thought I had a pair” (after double-checking your hand multiple times??) certainly didn’t help her case either.

All it would take is a way to have someone reading the RFID tags in the cards from anywhere, and then signaling via vibration or some other device to let Lew know if she should call, raise, or fold. RFID cards have been used for cheating before, and it’s possible it’s happened again.

While she might not look your typical grizzled degenerate in a track suit, Lew has plenty of poker experience with a number of tournament cashes since 2015, and she’s coached by well-known pro Faraz Jaka. But forget ranges or game theory optimal play, even the most novice players simply don’t ever make that call simply based on the strength of their hand. You can always bluff in poker, but once your opponent moves all-in for twice the size of the pot, that’s where the bluffing stops.

We’ll keep following the drama here, but when Phil Ivey shows up in a livestream no limit hold ‘em game and that’s not even close to being the biggest story of the day, you know it’s been a wild day at the tables.